DISCLAIMER: The story and characters belong to Paramount, etc. They are so not mine and no money is being made from this and no copyright infringement is intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is very much an AU; I wanted to reveal that TPTB are impotent when it comes to understanding of what makes a good interaction and a powerful bond. For some reason (no offense to any men on the list) a lot of male writers think powerful women always must engage in fragile-ego futile pissing contests. (Men who write for CSI have done the same thing there as well.) It is true just because there are strong females doesn't mean they have to have slumber parties and be members of "we're woman in a man's world so we have to bond club" either. However I'm playing B'Elanna as a true Maquis someone who sees atrocities and fought against it. I want to play her as if she had seen first hand Cardassian Concentration camps and 'in the like of' Stockholm syndrome refugees freed from those nests of horror. I want to write her as I think she might have reacted to Seven given her background.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 2: B'Elanna isn't rebelling against her Klingon self in fact she embraces it despite her past is the same as it is in Canon. No declawed Klingons here!
SOILERS: Directly for Scorpion I-II, The Gift, Day of Honor, off-hand First Contact, previous seasons of Voyager and all Borg related episodes of the Trek series. Time line and canon are a little off but you are fanfic readers and can adapt.
WARNING:please take careful note there will be mentions of pain and torture as B'Elanna recalls the things she had seen in the Cardassian concentration camps, bearing in mind Voyager Canon as well as Jean-Luc's torture at the hands of a Gull it isn't too hard to believe the crimes they committed against another soul. I have used much of what I heard from survivors of the camps in Germany, documentaries as well as what is available on the net. Please bear in mind I am not trying to exploit this dark history but use the information in this story as writers of the show have done in the past to shed some light on the troubling context. We must remember.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Elizabeth Carter


Part 14

Janeway didn't know what she should expect going into the Brig. All she knew was that she was in for another keep-on-your-toes-velocity-match with the drone…

Janeway's mind came to a screeching halt so fast the brake-pads ground down to a nub. 'Seven of Nine. Seven of Nine…Annika Hansen. If I don't think of her as that no one else will, least of all her. Seven of None, not a drone, Katie. She's not a thing, not a construct. She is a lost child. Lost, angry and terrified… not a thing. Not a machine…. Seven of Nine. Seven of Nine.'

Machine like, Seven of Nine paced the confines of her cell. Gone was reason, gone was anger all that remained was terror. Terror so controlling Seven would stop pacing to throw herself up against the energy barrier of the force field in hopes to deactivate herself. Janeway had taken away the drone's ability to adapt but she could not stop her from the act of self-deactivation.




One alone. Lost. The collective gone. The Queen… the Queen gone! Reason, logic the center gone. Over and over the thoughts looped. They had done so for three tormenting days. Continuous, never ceasing echoes of emptiness. Seven of Nine stared into the Abyss and the Abyss stared back.

"One. One. My designation is Seven of Nine, but the others are gone. Designations are no longer relevant." The pacing continued. Over and over Seven repeated her mantra, for seventy-two hours she had said nothing else, done nothing else but pace, until at last she broke and started to fling her body against the force field. Her words were a reminder of who she was. What she was. It didn't help. The silence was beyond numbing it was beyond terror it was insanity that lingered.

"I am - one." Fear brokered her voice. That shattered note broke Janeway's heart. Janeway was a Starfleet Captain and could not afford to show her deeper emotions, the fact she wanted to weep for this lost child. She had to remain firm, steadfast.

"Yes, you are." Blunt and honest was the answer.

"But I cannot function this way." Seven pleaded in such a voice it was as if Naomi Wildman was speaking not a twenty year old woman. "Alone."

Firm and steadfast didn't mean without compassion. It wasn't a weakness to show this. Three days in a brig for any humanoid might be an inconvenience, even vexing but to a Borg it was torture. Isolation was something the Borg do not do well. But what else could she have done, barring Chakotay's idea of throwing her out the airlock as he had done the others in Seven's unit?

"You're not alone. I'm willing to help you." Janeway surprised herself that she had meant each word.

"If that's true, you won't do this to me," Seven cried out. "Take me back to my own kind!"

"You are with your own kind," The Captain took a step forward slowly as if approaching a feral dog. "Humans."

"I don't remember being human." Seven turned from her captor unwilling to see the small redheaded woman. "I don't know what it is to be human." Her one functioning eye looked to her left hand covered in cybernetic mesh. Her patchwork body was far from human. A sudden movement at the threshold caught Seven's attention. The drone snapped her head up, her voice now cold as it had been on the Borg Cube. "What are you doing?"

"I'm coming in." Janeway finished typing in the sequences to the com-panel so the force field would yield. Once she was through it the force field went back up, trapping them both behind the energy barrier.

"I'll kill you."

Janeway looked at the woman sharply. She noticed that Seven had made no move from the back of the cell. Her tone was cold, hateful but it lacked the fire in the one blue eye. Clearly ensign Ayala had assumed the drone was speaking truth, but Janeway didn't become captain by not trusting her gut and taking words at face value. She signaled the young man away.

"I don't think you will." Her words completely deflated the posturing of the drone who obviously expected a threat in return or an ultimatum not the clear calm of the voice speaking to her. It was as if the Queen was there not this small human. The Queen ignored the threats of subjects to be assimilated as irrelevant. Seven fell back almost by rote into the submissive drone to her Queen. Janeway clearly believed the threat as irrelevant. Seven respected it more than that understood it.

"Do you remember her?" Janeway passed her a data PADD with a picture of a little blonde haired girl. "Her name was Annika Hansen. She was born on stardate 25479 at the Tendara Colony."

Seven looked on with scorn. Her glare her stance was deemed again as irrelevant by the small Captain. She was Borg! Borg do not fall back because of a human.

"There's still a lot we don't know about her." Janeway continued to move forward, each step measured, her voice still calm. "Did she have any siblings? Who were her friends?" another step until she was not just in Seven's personal space but touching the younger woman on the bare part of her flesh. "Where did she go to school? What was her favorite colour?"

Who did this human think she was? Locutus? 'She is small. Her words are small! She made you small! WE are Borg, there is no I. There is only the Collective! She took us from where we belong. From our kind! She made us one. One can not survive. A drone alone can not survive!' Ah there it was, the anger was back. "Irrelevant!" Seven snarled throwing the Data PADD against the bulk head. "Take me back to the Borg."

Again it was as if the Queen were speaking not a small human. "I can't do that."

Seven faulted on her feet. Her world spinning out of control. "So quiet." She fell hard against the bench, she wasn't completely aware that the small human that Janeway was now holding her. "One voice." Everything was wrong. So wrong.

"One voice can be stronger than a thousand voices," the smoky voice purred confidence. "Your mind is independent now, with its own unique identity."

"You are forcing that identity upon me. It's not mine." Seven wanted to resist.

"Oh yes it is." Janeway's voice was comforting gentle but oh so powerful. "I'm just giving you back what was stolen from you. The existence you were denied, the child who never had a chance, that life is yours to live now."

"I don't want that life." It was meek reply.

"It's what you are. Don't resist it."

'Resistance is futile.' The voice of the queen echoing over billions of minds as one world after another was assimilated Words Seven of Nine spoke herself. Words she knew to be true. Resistance was futile. 'One day I will return to the Collective. Resistance is futile. One alone can not survive. I will adapt. I will find away. Resistance is futile. I will return to my Queen, to the hive. I will adapt. Locutus was separated and returned. Seven of Nine Tertiary Adjunct Unimatrix Zero One will return to the Collective. I will betray them, I will return. Resistance is futile.'

"The doctor is ready to finalize the removal of the exoskeleton. Your treatments must continue Seven of Nine. It will take time but you will survive, I know you must be frightened, but you are not alone. You will not go through this alone, I promise you."

Seven looked upon Janeway unsure but wanting some reassurances, needing them. 'On my ship I am Queen.'

"Seven of Nine you might be independent from the collective. One. But you are not one alone. I'm sorry that your confinement was torment; it is not designed to be so. I am going to guide you back to humanity." Janeway knew she had to command the encounter. Seven of Nine would not respond to benign approaches. "I will not abandon you. But you have to let me help you. You belong to this collective now. Voyager is your Collective."

That Seven could relate to.

On Earth it was still to this day called Stockholm Syndrome. It was a psychosis common to those suffering capture, carrying various names in countless sectors. Seven in a very true sense of the word was suffering from this same psychosis. It took time to de-program the inmates of death camps in this case the Collective but it could be done. For Seven of Nine's sake it had to be so.

"Come with me, I'll escort you to the Cargo bay. The doctor said you need to regenerate before he can proceed further with your treatment."

Seven looked at the woman but made no move to leave. "You didn't deactivate me."

"Of course not." Janeway was a bit surprised at the thought Seven expected to be terminated. Then of course Janeway gave no hint such actions wouldn't have taken place. A defective drone is deactivated, its components recycled. "You are not a defective drone, Seven of Nine why would I deactivate you?"

"Commander Chakotay would have it so. He intended it to be so."

"The Commander's actions are not my actions. His thoughts are not my thoughts. His wishes in this matter are irrelevant." Janeway adopted the more formal speech patters that might have been spoken by the Queen. Again Seven responded. "Indeed I would have complied with setting your 'Unimatrix' on the planet you named even if it was ten days out of our way."

"The drones were not of my Unimatrix," Seven felt compelled to clarify. "My Unimatrix is Zero One. They were of Zero Three."

Janeway was intrigued. "When there is time, I think I'd like to learn more of how the hierarchy of the Borg works."

"It is not a hierarchy."

Janeway winked. "Oh this sounds like a very good philosophical discussion. Unfortunately right now I don't have the time. If it's not Species 8472, it's the Borg, if not the Borg, it's a transcending Ocampan who is trying to shake every rivet out of Voyager." A gentle touch on Seven's back guided the reluctant drone from her cell out of the Brig and into the corridor beyond. "Come, time for you to regenerate."

Then they were in the lift, this time without a security escort. Janeway needed to show Seven not simply trust, but an offering of peace of serenity. "Seven of Nine, I make this promise to you as well. I won't let Commander Chakotay harm you. Even if I am incapacitated as I was before, you will be protected I made sure of it."

"How will you do this? Who have you charged with this duty?"

"Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres swore an Oath she would safeguard you if it came to that. She is a good woman." Janeway smiled. "I trust her. We had a very rocky beginning at first too, she was… is Maquis but she is also my Chief Engineer. And my friend. You can trust her word. She took up a defense of you against Commander Chakotay and will do so again."

"She is an efficient engineer." Seven simply said.

"High praise from the Borg."

Shift change couldn't happen soon enough for Ensign Ayala. It had been a hell of a day. Hell of a week. Borg-sitting wasn't something the Bajoran had been keen on in the first place but he did his duty, like a good Starfleet officer. Hell like a good Maquis officer. There had been times when he had been put on guard duty over the Cardies. Never did Ayala think he'd be watching over a drone.

When she first started her mad pacing and mumblings he chose to ignore it. Apparently the other Security details had as well. Their logs simply noted the drone continued to mutter Borg propaganda and pace. Ayala brought it up to his immediate supervisor Lt. Rothery. Who thought if the drone continued to behave in such fashion it might be prudent to notify the Captain and Tuvok but that had been two days ago.

The flashes of the drone slamming her body again and again against the force ten energy field looped in the Maquis mind. He couldn't get over the tormented cries of pain. The power in the force field should have incapacitated the drone. It didn't.

She was so desperate to self destruct. Ayala tried to reason with her, but he knew the kind of madness swelling in the prisoner's mind. He knew it because he'd seen it a dozen times in the Cardassian death camps. Bajoran woman praying to the Prophets before they committed suicide rather then become pleasure slaves to the Cardassian Guls.

The drone… Seven of Nine had been so desperate, so vulnerable Ayala for a moment forgot she was of the monstrous Borg. He had forgotten his hatred for the Borg. Until he was out here Ayala had never encountered the Borg, his hate had been reserved for the Cardassians. It was assumed that he was supposed to hate the Borg for what they did at Wolf 359 like everyone else aboard Voyager. Ayala never once considered life of the victims after the event, or that they were still alive, but Borg. Ayala had viewed the world… the galaxy without the clutter of ambiguity.

'Life is not destroyed if it is altered as one knows it to be, it is simply unrecognizable by those who once had it.' They were the words of the Prophets. Borg do not destroy life as so much as they alter it. Victims of Wolf 359 still exist though they would never be as they were, even if like Seven of Nine they were taken from the Collective.

The Bajoran shook his head as if to clear away the cobwebs taking root after so long at philosophizing. It didn't do to reminisce about things one simply could not change. It was wasted energy.

He turned off the lights to the cell Seven of Nine had been in when he noticed the abandoned data PADD the drone had thrown. Ayala intended only to return it to the captain when he paused to look at the screen.

Looking at the smiling face of a four year old girl. 'Pretty cute for a human.' He thought. From this to that. No wonder she's terrified, if she was a kid going in, she's gotta be like a kid coming out, nothing in-between but memories of being a machine. He sighed. "Prophets, be with that little girl inside that Borg Drone. She's going to need your guidance if anyone does."

Serendipitously he thought of another young woman in the process of transformation. In his Bajoran mind the young man thought Kes as becoming one of the Prophets. Perhaps when she ascended into cosmos to join the other Prophets she would carry his prayers to them. Kes as a Prophet would watch over the lost soul of Annika Hansen inside Seven of Nine.

Leaving Cargo Bay one with Seven quietly 'tucked' into her alcove, Janeway made her way to her ready room for a cup of coffee. She wanted a stolen moment to breathe after the rollercoaster she had just left.

Playing nursemaid to a Borg Drone going through an anxiety attack was something the Academy never trained you for. It never trained you how to deal with a crewmate ascending into an ethereal being either. One panicky young woman down another to go not to mention a whole ship to restore and get the hell out of Borg space before the Queen up and decided she wants to recover her missing drone. Something Kathryn's gut told her Seven's connection to the Queen of the Borg went further and deeper than one might first suspect.

'One disaster at a time, Katie.' The words belonged to Janeway's father. 'Daddy was right about having days when the whole galaxy is conspiring against you. A Janeway never says it's not fair. A Janeway pushes forward, gets the job done even if it means pushing the boundaries.'

Officially Janeway was due to be off duty, but she was the Captain and her ship was still sailing dangerous waters. Sipping her coffee and simply catching her breath with her legs outstretched on the coffee table in front of her, Janeway allowed herself a moment to simply soak in a few minutes of quiet.

Automatic pilot took over. Her silver mug was put down on the table as she moved her legs and stretched out again on the sofa. 'Just a few moments, that's all I need.' It didn't take long for her eyes to close and her breathing becoming softer as sleep took over.

Sometimes a hard thirty-minute nap opposed to a restless eight hours sleep can make all the difference in the world, especially aboard a starship. Kathryn felt a bit more rejuvenated for her rest, feeling more confident in her measures to tackle the on going problems. Of course there was the 'paperwork' to finish:

"Captain's log, supplemental. Warp drive is still offline and we don't know whether the Borg have detected us. Kes's psychokinetic abilities continue to damage the ship's structural integrity, and as a result our defenses have been compromised."

'Oh Kes… I care so much for you, my little Kes… but I can't have you on my ship…you'll sink her.' Rubbing the back of her neck, feeling the concrete had settled in for the duration. As luck would have her combadge beeped.

"Captain here."

*Captain? It's Kes. I was hoping I might have a moment of your time?*

Janeway's lips of their own volition pulled into a smile. Dysfunctional warpcore, frightened Borg drone were put aside - a budding goddess that was slowly destroying her ship took their place. "Of Course. On my way."

Kes opened the door to her quarters before Janeway had a chance to buzz her arrival. "Come in, Captain." The elfin woman smiled radiantly. In truth there was a slight golden glow to the young woman. It had been there since the incident in the mess hall. It wasn't something the girl was deliberately doing but could not stop it either any more than a person could stop blinking.

"You wanted to see me?" Janeway pretended the glowing hadn't unnerved her.

Kes merely nodded, guiding the captain into the living room. In doing so they skirted the coffee table upon which the Captain's eyes found a very familiar object. "Ah, Tuvok's meditation lamp." She reached to take it in hand. "I was with him when he got it six years ago from a Vulcan master, at double the price when he saw our Starfleet insignias."

Kes smiled. "I'm sure it was the logical thing to do."

They shared a laugh as Janeway placed the lamp back down upon the glass surface of the table.

"I've been thinking about everything that's been going on and I know what I have to do."

Instinctively Janeway knew what it was Kes was going to say. It didn't mean she wanted to hear it. . "It's time for me to leave Voyager."

Damn it! She swore she wasn't going to go misty eyes over this. She knew it was coming, she knew it was the only answer. But damn it to hell! "Oh, Kes."

Instead of sadness hope reflected in the Ocampan's eyes. Excitement burned. "Something important is happening to me and I want to explore it, but I can't stay here any longer." She took hold of Janeway's hands and squeezed them. How she loved her Captain. Kathryn had become as much as a mother to her as her own had been. The captain had seen her through puberty and helped her reach the stars and opened the universe to her. "I'm a danger to all of you."

Kathryn swallowed that rebellious lump growing exponentially in her throat. "We're going to get to the bottom of this. The Doctor is already working on a new approach."

"Everybody thinks that what's happening is a medical condition." There was contempt hidden in the soft voice. Contempt for her friends who couldn't or didn't want to understand. After living half her life with humans' Kes had learned they thrived to find an explanation for everything, especially the mystical. It was astonishing religion thrived at all on Earth. "That's not it at all. I'm going though a transformation. I don't know how or why, but every cell in my body is telling me that I'm changing into something more." Surely the scientist in Kathryn would grasp that, understand it.

Janeway frowned. "What if it's not true? What if you're simply being swept up in the excitement of something you think is happening, but it's not real?" Janeway's hands moved to touch Kes' cheek in a mothers' tender caress before she rubbed the same hand through her hair. "On the basis of a feeling, an intuition, you're asking me to let you go. Quite likely forever." She swallowed hard, it was becoming increasingly difficult to talk. Tears now formed in her eyes and she didn't bother to wipe them away. "Kes, I just can't do that."

"It's my decision. My fate. Would you really try to stop me?"

For a moment the tone of voice was almost an echo of that carried by Seven of Nine. One young woman terrified of the transformation happening to her, and the other longing for it to happen. Both denying the captain yet both looking to this figure, this small human for answers.

"No, but I will argue with you, even plead with you to reconsider, absolutely, for as long as it takes." Again Janeway moved to touch Kes's face but held back, her hand coming to rest upon the other woman's arm instead.

The elfin woman shrugged. "It won't work."

At last Janeway nodded knowing the inevitable though not wanting to believe it.

"Look at me, Captain. I'm the same Kes you've always known. I haven't lost my judgment. I'm not under some alien influence. I believe something crucial is happening to me and I want to see it through."

"You've lived most of your life here. Voyager has been your home and you've been a vital part of this family."

They paused looking at one another with great love. Janeway threw caution to the wind and took Kes into her arms. Was this how Gretchen felt when she said goodbye to her daughter the day she went to the Academy? Or after the dinner they had shared the night before Janeway was due to go into the Bad Lands seeking the Maquis?

"Oh, I'm going to miss you." Kathryn tightened her hug.

Kes didn't trust her voice at first. All she wanted to do was fold into the arms of this woman. This woman who was as her mother. "I love you," she whispered.

"And I you, Kes," Janeway admitted in the smallest of whispers not for shame but because she was still the Captain. She grew up as a Traditionalist but still a military family. The military thought you to be detached, dispassionate. Doubly so if you were a female officer because you were doubly scrutinized even in this age for being emotional and hormonal. Janeway couldn't suppress her emotions now, she'd gag on them if she tried. She wasn't on the Bridge, she was saying goodbye to a dear sweet friend. It was an allowance the Captain made for herself to allow the tears to fall and the hug to last longer than perhaps it should have.

Feeling the need to break up the tension, Kes pulled humor out of the air. "Now all I have to do is tell the Doctor. He's not going to be happy." They both laughed.

It was dry lighting.

A solar flare.

Kes's body surged with raw energy making her entire form glow blindingly in shrouds of wispy golden light.

"It's starting." Kes managed to say between shots of gut clenching pain. It had never been like this before. In the hours and days past it was a whisper touch, a lover's caress. This was not. It hurt deep down, further than bone and sinew. It was a soul-ache.

There wasn't even a moment's hesitation in the Captain; she knew what had to be done. Whether she wanted to or not, ready or not she had to say goodbye to Kes or lose her ship. "Janeway to bridge."

There was a heartbeat between the hail and the answer. First Officer Chakotay was sitting not in his normal chair but the Captain's as the con was his.

"Chakotay here."

*Prepare a shuttle for launch.*

The order both perplexed and troubled the first officer. "Captain?" Who would dare go out on an away mission this deep in Borg Space? Over his shoulder he saw Tuvok doing something very un-Vulcan. The man was actually fidgeting.

*Kes is leaving us.*

"Understood." Chakotay gave a silent order to Kim to have the shuttle waiting for the women when they arrived. "Tuvok, what is it?" He hoped to the spirits the Tactical Officer wasn't about to tell him the Borg were on their tail or worse yet the 'Scorpion' had stung again. She was sedated in sickbay but Chakotay wasn't about to leave things to chance.

"I believe I can assist Kes. I can feel her distress even here, she is losing her hold, Commander."

Was that all? "Permission to leave the Bridge. Good luck."

Tuvok moved as a man chased by the hounds of hell. Kes's change was tearing at her body and mind. Her center self was all but gone, if she lost complete control they would all die.

Between the bulkhead and Kathryn, Kes managed to stay on her feet, despite the debilitating cramps and surges of power running through her nervous system.

"Come on." Janeway urged, practically carrying the elfin woman in her desperation.

"Captain, I can't stop it."

Kes collapsed to the floor dragging Janeway down with her. Her body seizing in a rigor like state before relaxing bonelessly. The glowing field around her frame intensified with each muscle contraction.

Damn it why was nothing ever easy? "Janeway to Chakotay. Beam us directly to the shuttle bay."

Kim looked at the readouts on the computer screen in front of him in dismay. "The molecules in Kes's body are destabilizing. It's interfering with the transporter." He couldn't even do B'Elanna's skeletal lock trick.

"Captain, we can't get a lock," Chakotay announced. 'Hang in there Kes; just keep it together a moment longer.'

Another flare another cramp.

"Acknowledged. Looks like we're going to have to do this the hard way."

Kes was on her feet once more and again half dragged half carried by Janeway to the lift. All around them bulkheads, floors even the ceiling wavered as jello. Sparks ricocheted from electrical conduits behind the bulkheads

It wasn't just in the corridor Kes and the Captain were it was happening to the entire ship. The viewscreen on the Bridge bulged and moved as if made of water.

"What's happening?" Chakotay didn't disguise the fear he was feeling. The whole bridge was ripe with it.

"The hull is destabilizing." Paris announced agog at the readings of his own computer. "The molecular bonds are breaking down." How was that even possible? 'Kes what the hell are you doing?

Several decks below Captain Kathryn Janeway let out a gasp of relief when she saw Tuvok coming towards them from the opposite direction. He moved swiftly to his student's side and took the position from the captain as motivator and supporter.

"Tuvok, I can't keep going." Kes pleaded.

Janeway backed away giving the man the space he needed. "I will attempt a mind meld to help you delay the transformation." Even as they walked he places his long fingered dark skinned hands against the glowing gold temple of Kes. "Our minds are one. Our thoughts are one. Try to regain control for a moment."

The glow flared then hushed to a whisper of light.

"Only for a moment." His voice was in Kes' ears, in her mind. "Only for a moment."

The glowing stopped. Tuvok turned to the captain. Her duty here was done they both knew it. Kes knew it. "You must hurry."

Janeway nodded her understanding. Kes might not be stabilized for long; the ship was still losing its integrity. As captain she would see this trauma to its end. The shuttle bay was just ahead. It didn't seem as nearly as far away as it had before the Vulcan's arrival.

Streams of data poured into Ensign Harry Kim's Ops kiosk terrified the young Asian. Not for the pedestrian reasons that the ship was collapsing in on itself but that his friend was the cause of it. "Hull breach on decks three, four and five."

The same decks Kes would have been passing in the turbo lift from her quarters to the shuttle bay.

"Emergency containment fields!" Chakotay snapped.

Kim was poised to do precisely that but had waited for the order. His fingers typed in the commands for the containment fields without hesitation or error.

*Janeway to the bridge. Kes is aboard the shuttle. Initiate launch sequence.*


Again Kim commanded the codes with Borg like efficiency. From the view screen they saw the shuttle move agonizingly slow away from Voyager. There would not be enough time to escape the surge of power coming from the small woman. The warpcore was still down, B'Elanna was constant and vigilant, but Voyager's engines needed to be nursed back into working order after all the Borg and Species 8472 put them through. Despite all they would be obliterated.

As he had suspected the course of action with the Commander earlier, Kim anticipated his CO's future need and tried in vain to contact the shuttle. If he could tell Kes she needed to go to warp they might be safe. Just.

"Shuttle distance, one hundred thousand kilometers. Speed, one quarter impulse," Paris announced just as Janeway came on deck to take the con.

"Can you hail her?" Janeway asked.

Kim shook his head in his failure. "I've been trying."

No longer paralysed by the cramps Kes allowed herself to become possessed by the euphoria of transformation. It was exhilarating, wonderful beyond the scope of thought, feelings or definition.

Flares of light pulsed with each heartbeat. Blood… energy pumped throughout her body lifting Kes into the world beyond the mere physical.

*It's happening.*

They heard the words. Kes knew it, had sent it to her former lover, to her sweet friends, to her beloved Captain, to her paternal figure the Doctor. Even the lost drone had heard the words echo.

*It's happening to me.*

Kim swallowed hard. For a moment it was if he was reliving his very first kiss by a girl--his first moments of coming home after the academy and being embraced by his mother. It was warm, tender fulfilling emotion rippling throughout his body. He wasn't the only one. This strange full body encompassing feeling came with Kes' telepathic communiqué.

"Her atomic structure is completely destabilizing." Harry said or rather repeated the diagnosis of the scans he was taking of Kes. He had been monitoring her since the surge in the Mess Hall a couple of days ago.

Kes closed her eyes, in ecstasy. She had surrendered all to ascension. "My gift to you." Her words became power. Her will be done. A thought was all that it took.

Life! Energy! Power!

In her mind's eye Kes imagined the dead warpcore coming to life with its azure glow. Pulsing as a heart, as her heart pulsed.

B'Elanna leapt back from hub of the warpcore when it suddenly flared. Brown eyes stared in a moment's astonishment before she could pull out of her amazed state.

"Torres to Bridge. The warp core just came online." She looked at the console in front of her. That can't be right. There is no way that is right! How could it be possible? There could only ever be one hundred percent. It defied the laws of physics, of warp theory.

"Matter antimatter reaction at one hundred and two percent." Worry etched on her caramel face. The readings were escalating to dangerous levels. "A hundred and ten percent." Forget dangerous they were downright deadly. "A hundred and twenty!"


Voyager's spoon shaped saucer section tore through space as a dart loosed from a crossbow. Speckled starlight became streaks of white

On the bridge Paris was experiencing the same awe and disbelief Torres had in Engineering. "This can't be right. Our speed is - it's impossible!"

Janeway felt her body being compressed into the leather command chair. The inertial dampers were strained past their limits.

"We're coming apart!" Kim bellowed. He felt his teeth rattle against his jaw bone. He hadn't just meant Voyager he meant everyone. Tuvok held on for dear life at his station so too did the Captain, Commander and the other officers on deck. Paris looked like he was going to be sick.

Just as suddenly as it had happened. It stopped.

"We've just dropped out of whatever it was we were in." Paris announced. Wham bam thank you ma'am. The thought entered his mind briefly, that was one hell of a parting gift.

"Systems coming back online." Chakotay said.

"On screen." Janeway moved from her chair to stand behind Paris more out of habit than anything else. "Where are we?

"Nine point five thousand light years from where we just were." Paris answered.

"She's thrown us safely beyond Borg space." A smile found itself on the captain's face. "Ten years closer to home." She couldn't help it. Didn't try to control the laugh that came out of her mouth. "Kes you are an amazing woman.. Thank you. We will miss you."

"Yeah we will." Paris whispered. There had been a time when he had wanted to be the one she chose to make a life with. In some reality perhaps they had. They had kids and even grandkids together. 'I will miss you Angel-face.'

Each face told its own story. Tuvok closed his eyes perhaps in a memorial to the young protégée that had left his side. Kim lost a friend but he was closer to home, to his parents. In the mess hall Neelix wept for his 'Sweetie.' Oh how he loved her. Today he had lost a great part of himself. His heart lay broken. Tonight he would drink the last of the moon-ripened Champagne and toast to his lost love.

B'Elanna touched the hub of her beloved engines, thanking Kes that she hadn't torn them apart and for restoring power to 'her' ship.

The Doctor's thin lips pulled back into a grimace. Kes had been an exemplary assistant. She had the qualities of the finest of doctors. She had helped him reach a level of humanity no other hologram could possibly achieve. Without Kes he would not be the man he was today. Perhaps he could honor her memory by passing along Kes' teachings to another young lady.

He patted the arm of the sedated Borg drone. "I'll help you find humanity Seven of Nine, just as Kes helped me find mine."

Captain Kathryn Janeway stood firmly rooted on the Bridge of her ship. Her steel blue eyes closed. 'Goodbye sweet child, my dear dear friend. We guided each other through many things. I will miss your unique grasp and new wonder of experiences. I only hope I can be as good of a friend to Seven of Nine as you have been to me. I hope I can mentor her as well as I hoped I had with you. Goodbye Kes.'

To Be Continued

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